Russell Westbrook tears up in emotional NBA MVP award speech
Westbrook defeats fellow finalists James Harden of Houston and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio to claim the season MVP award for first time
Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, who became only the second player in NBA history to average a triple double for an entire season, was named the NBA Most Valuable Player at the inaugural NBA Awards show.
Westbrook defeated fellow finalists James Harden of Houston and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio to claim the season MVP award for the first time in ceremonies at New York.
The 28-year-old guard, who helped the Americans win 2012 London Olympic gold, averaged a league-high 31.6 points plus 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists a game, matching Oscar Robertson from 1962 with double digits in three statistical categories for a full season.
“To everybody in Oklahoma City who helped me go out every night and compete at a high level, I thank you for that,” said Westbrook, who invited teammates on stage with him.
Russell Westbrook gets emotional during his MVP speech.
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“It was an amazing season for me but without these guys none of it would have been possible. This award is not for me. It’s for all of us.”
Westbrook thanked “all my fans all across the world who appreciate me” and cried as he thanked his wife and parents.
“I couldn’t do none of this without you guys,” he said. “I can’t say thank you enough.”
Westbrook also won awards for best style and from fans for the game winner of the year.
Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks won the Most Improved Player award, beating out Gobert and Serbian forward Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.
Another Bucks standout, Milwaukee guard Malcolm Brogdon, won Rookie of the Year honours and thanked his teammates.
“They believe in me,” he said. “They have given me tremendous opportunity ... This is a testament to guys who get overlooked. You can always achieve your dreams if you have faith and you sacrifice.”
Cameroon centre Joel Embiid and Croatia’s Dario Saric, both with Philadelphia, were losing finalists for the top newcomer award.
Golden State forward Draymond Green was voted the Defensive Player of the Year, defeating co-finalists Leonard and French centre Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz.
“This isn’t an individual award,” Green said. “There are five guys on the floor every time. I can’t do this all by myself so I appreciate them.”
Golden State’s Bob Myers was named Executive of the Year.
Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon was named the NBA’s top reserve player, taking the Sixth Man Award.
“We just had an unbelievable year,” Gordon said. “I would like to thank my teammates and my coaches for making my job easy this year.”
Houston’s Mike D’Antoni was named Coach of the Year over San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra.
“This is the ultimate team award,” D’Antoni said. “You do not win this alone.”
German star Dirk Nowitzki of Dallas was named Teammate of the Year in voting by players, the 39-year-old forward expected to be back with the Mavericks next season.
“My teammates are there to support me and push me and motivate me,” said Nowitzki. “I still enjoy to compete. Hopefully, I’ll be around a couple more years.”
Other fan-voted awards went to Leonard for block of the year, Golden State’s Klay Thompson for performance of the year in a 60-point effort, Golden State’s Kevin Durant for best play-off moment for a three-pointer in game three of the NBA Finals, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Green for assist of the year and Oklahoma City’s Victor Oladipo for dunk of the year.